I’m writing this while you are at school. You left this morning wearing your bright yellow T-shirt, the one you say makes you faster than the speed of light. You are nine years old, but it seems like you are running toward being a teenager just as fast.
Every day, you are learning what it means to be a man. You never went through the “girls have cooties” phase. In kindergarten, you told us that the other boys wouldn’t play with girls, but you did. You thought they were funny and cool, and great at make-believe.
I’m writing this letter because there’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the actions of the man who was just elected president of the United States. He was caught on tape bragging about grabbing and kissing women without their consent. He boasted that he can do whatever he wants, because he is rich and famous. When confronted, he brushed off his comments as locker-room talk.
Jackson, listen to me. There are no excuses for this kind of talk. This is not how honourable men talk about women, even in locker-rooms. Words have power. They shape what we believe and how we act. Perhaps the worst part of this whole scandal is the response of some Christian leaders, who acted like these words didn’t matter.
You were not raised this way. Hear me when I say, this is not how you are to talk—even as a joke, even in a locker room. Don’t believe those who tell you “boys will be boys.” Being a man does not mean that you can touch or talk about women as if they are not image-bearers of God.
It is not OK. It is not locker-room talk. These words are misogynistic (I know that’s a big word—I’ll explain it when you get home). They are abusive and dehumanizing. President Donald Trump has forgotten that the women he so casually talks about grabbing “without even asking” are human. I know this doesn’t make sense to you, and for that I am grateful.
You have a voice. You are only nine, but already you have taught me so much about what it means to seek justice. You have been asking questions since you started talking, and the answer “because that’s the way it is” has never been good enough. I admit I sometimes get frustrated, especially when all I want is for you to brush your teeth and go to bed, or watch a TV show without another interruption. But on most days, your questioning spirit pushes me to ask questions, too. Pushes me to consider another reality.
Your voice matters. Your voice can be an agent for change. Your words can build up rather than tear down. Your words can give life rather than death. In the beginning, God spoke and created the world. In the beginning, was the Word, who was and is God. Words have power. Words create worlds.
I know you. You already influence people. You will have opportunities. My deepest hope for you is that you will use your words, your power, your opportunities, to stand up for justice. That your words and your life would echo the words found in Micah 6:8, that you would act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
But for now, I hope you’re having a good day at school. Please do your math homework in class, instead of bringing it home for Mommy to do with you. Please eat the healthy parts of your lunch, not just the treats.
And would you remember that God made you and you belong to him? Would you remember that he made each of your friends—the boys and the girls, every race under the sun, even the kid that doesn’t laugh at your jokes? Would you remember and show them God’s love?
Lieutenant Kristen Jackson-Dockeray is the divisional youth secretary in the British Columbia Division.